Sweden’s state gambling monopoly set to be scrapped

  • Sweden set to scrap state gambling monopoly
  • Government hopes to grab tax from $574 million market

The Swedish government is planning to scrap most of the country’s state gambling monopoly and replace it with a system of licensing and taxation, Reuters reports. For Swedish players, it is not yet clear whether licensing will increase choice in the market.

The end of the Svenska Spel monopoly would force online casinos to seek a Swedish license.
The end of the Svenska Spel monopoly would force online casinos to seek a Swedish license.

A government-appointed commission was set up in 2015 to look into the structure of the Swedish gambling industry and its report will be published on Friday. It is likely to recommend sweeping changes designed to bring overseas online gambling companies into the Swedish regulatory framework and to boost tax revenues.

The state gambling monopoly was established in 1934 but has been steadily eroded over the last few years thanks to the rise of online casinos and other forms of betting. Overseas providers can currently operate inside Sweden and pay nothing in tax to the Swedish government.

The Swedish online casino and betting market is strong and is growing. According to the latest figures, Swedish households spend 2.3% of disposable income on state-regulated Svenska Spel. The state monopoly saw a 2.4% rise in profits from 2015 to 2016, but non-regulated gambling has seen even bigger growth, increasing by 16% last year and amounting to around 5.1 billion Swedish Krona ($574 million), none of which was taxed.

Tax on gaming revenue

It is believed that the man leading the commission, Hakan Hallstedt, is going to recommend a tax of 18% on the gross gaming revenue of companies offering online casinos and other forms of betting. At the same time, it is hoped that by scrapping most of the state monopoly, the government will be able to encourage foreign companies such as Kindred Group and Betsson, which take up an increasing share of online gambling in the country, to submit to regulation and taxation.

The scrapping of the gambling monopoly will also be well received by the European Union, which has for a long time viewed it as a violation of EU competition rules.

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